When I was a kid my parents took very literally and very seriously Proverbs 22:15 which says: “Folly (foolishness) is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.” And I must have been pretty foolish (or mouthy) because the rod of discipline, a.k.a. “Daddy’s Belt” was a pretty common happening with me.
Well, I hated it as a kid, but it taught me a ton of things that have helped me in life. That’s the whole point of discipline after all. The definition is: “training that corrects, molds, or perfects…moral character.” Discipline is a good thing. It’s not pleasant, but it’s good and necessary.
And you know what? It doesn’t stop when we get out from under our Momma’s roof either. In Hebrews 12 we find this reminder: ”
“5 And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,
“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t give up when he corrects you.
6 For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”[f]
7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. 9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?
10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
Recently I got a spanking from the Lord, so to speak. I know that all I have belongs to Him and we set aside a certain amount to give to the Lord’s work each week. A tithe. It’s a commitment we’ve made as a family and it’s important to us that we honor that commitment. Well, as life happens, we had a “tight week” and I took the money I had set aside for the Lord and used it to buy gas, groceries, that kind of thing. Now normally, I would pray over such a thing or I would give the money set aside to the Lord’s work as intended and trust God for the rest, but this time I just didn’t even think about it. (There’s the problem). I just treated it like it was mine (BIG problem) and said to myself that I would catch up the tithe later.
Fast forward a couple of days and factor in the 2 checks I forgot to write in my check register and what you have is a big mess. A mess that resulted in overdraft fees. Been there? It’s ugly right? You feel like banging your head against the wall. I could spit. I had to take money that I had been saving for something else from our savings account to cover these fees and when I was sorting all this out it dawned on me…..the amount that I “lost” was the same exact amount that I had committed to give to the Lord. I was heart-sick at the idea that I could have given the amount to the Lord and it could have been put to good use, but now it was gone. Sucked up in a bank fee. And now my savings set aside was gone too.
I was reminded of the passage of scripture in Matthew 25 that says: “29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.” This passage deals with the rewards we will receive upon Christ’s return, but there’s a lesson here. Because I thought I had “little” I used it without thought of the commitment I had made and then my “little” was taken.
How sad. Not so much that the money was gone. But that I didn’t trust God to supply my need and broke my commitment to Him. Thank you Lord that I recognized it for what it was. I sinned. God disciplined me. But then…….my taxes were due on my car and guess what? They were the same exact amount as the tithe and the bank fees. Hmmm. A coincidence? I think not. What should be done?
Malachi 3 came to my mind: “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. 9 You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!
Ok – time to put God to the test. I took my car tax money straight home and put it in my tithe envelope and dropped it off at the church. Never mind it was Wednesday morning, I wasn’t waiting until Sunday. I told the Lord I was sorry, thanked Him for His correction and gave Him what I had promised. Then I asked the Lord to provide for my car taxes. So what did the Lord do? He provided for my taxes, a spring break trip to GA to visit my parents with my kids, an unexpected eye doctor expense, extra gas and grocery money AND money to get my gray roots colored! Talk about the windows of heaven being open!! Thank you sweet Jesus.
Friends, God wants to be first. He will be first. And when He’s first He blesses you for it. When He disciplines you, recognize it for what it is and be grateful. It’s training. It’s vital. It’s His grace. It’s evidence of His merciful heart. It keeps us on the right path and that’s something to praise Him for. Bless His holy name.